Book Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt


  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812982851
  • ISBN-13: 978-081298285

There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most. ~Amazon Description

One glance, that’s all it took for me to break my “book-buying ban.” It happened at Barnes and Noble, a place I had promised not to visit until reducing my TBR list at home. I was perusing through the shelves, waiting for my sister to pick up the books she had put on hold, when the beautiful cover called out to me. The title was quite intriguing; plus, for some weird reason, I love wolves. So, I picked up the book, read the first two pages, and I was hooked. My “book-buying ban” had ended, and it was worth it!

Carol Rifka Brunt’s debut novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, is a coming of age story, which explores themes of love, family, discrimination, and equality. The story takes place in the 1980s, amidst the AIDS epidemic. It follows 14-year old Jane Elbus, who appears to be much younger than the indicated age at the beginning of the story. Jane loves her uncle, Finn, who had died of AIDS. Jane, filled with grief, finds herself befriending her uncle’s boyfriend, Toby, only to find out that he’s also dying. Jane’s journey, her growth and learning, appear to have been expedited by grief and the possible loss of another friend.

I enjoyed reading this book. It made me feel all of the feelings, and at the end of the story, I found myself writing (in public). I wish I could be half a writer. Jane’s story is compelling. It made me think about growing up and about loss. I’m truly in love with this novel, and I highly recommend it.

Let me know if you have any questions. If you wish to speak about the novel, send me a message. Happy Reading!



5 thoughts on “Book Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

    1. It is hard for me not to buy books, but I’m trying. My apartment is tiny, and I think I have more books than furniture.

      I’m challenging myself to pick up books from the library. The New York libraries have almost everything, and the books are easily accessible. I can reserve them online, and pick them up at my closest branch. If the branch doesn’t have the book, then I can order the book from a library in a different borough and pick it up at mine.

      Have you ever implemented a “book ban?”

      Thanks for reading!


  1. I’ve actually gotten surprisingly good at using the library – I only purchase books I know I’ll want to keep after reading them, or books that I know I’ll want to read again, or books I intend to pass on. Most of the books I read for the first time now come from the library – and there have been a couple I was itching to race out to buy, but then ended up disliking when I finally got my hands on the library copy. So it works out!


    1. Yes, that’s a good system. Public libraries are amazing. I’m very grateful for their existence. My closest library offers so many free programs for adults and children. Libraries are often underrated.


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